Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pour Decisions

I have looked at a lot of wine lists lately, in regards to Italian places, but not exclusively. One wine director recently bragged to folks at the bar, ”I tried to find things no one would recognize”. Really? Is that what I, as an owner, would like a beverage director to do to my wine program? Find things no one would recognize? What am I missing here?

If the consultant, director, whatever we call the person who designs a wine program, is at the restaurant all the working hours, it shouldn’t be a problem. But as it was, in the case of the place where the consultant put together a list of “unrecognizables”, two out of three times I was there, said consultant wasn’t there. So what good was this program?

A good friend recently told me, over lunch, "If you ain’t selling, you aren't here for long.”

So to those simpatico in the industry, especially the young ones who think they are “discovering wine for the rest of us,” get back on the sales floor. Get yourself grounded. And start selling those unfamiliar wines to the patrons that are coming in. Because, if not, they will order a mixed drink. Or a beer. As was the case in the place I was recently in. The wine director was out on the town, on a Saturday night. Meanwhile the barman was the helm of his bar, selling. As was the chef, in the kitchen, cooking. “If you ain't selling, what are you worth?”

You must have mindshare before you can have marketshare. You cannot have marketshare if you are not there.

Word to those who are listening. Get back to your ship, get in your seat, or your floor, and work it. There are no gimme’s, even for master sommeliers. It’s all about what you are worth to your boss or your restaurant, right then. Right there. And by the way, if an industry type, whether they are from a large distributor or a small importer, come in, offer one or two of their “unrecognizables” while you are at it. Two words: Expense Account. Three more words: Money to spend. Mix business sense in with your quest for mastery, it will keep the boss happy and the ship afloat.


  1. "Three more words: Money to spend. Mix business sense in with your quest for mastery, it will keep the boss happy and the ship afloat.", GREAT ADVICE!

  2. You are, as always, right on the mark. Restaurants don't sell more wine for just the reasons you name. They make it difficult for consumers to feel comfortable, which is something they would never do with the menu. Can you imagine a chef treating his food like so many restaurant wine people treat their wine?

  3. OR they could write wicked clever tasting notes on the wine menu.

  4. A.GREED. there are a few very guilty types such as this 'round these parts who poop out an esoteric list and walk away, leaving the servers and owners to figure it out themselves. who would hire this kind of person with a "set it and forget it" mentality? making a list with wines that people can discover should be an adventure with a smart sommm or such as the guide, pouring and talking and SELLING. SELLING. otherwise, it is useless serves only the ego of he/she who wrote it.

  5. Awesome comment, Mrs. P!

    Plus the word "poop" always disarms me.

    Terence Dominic Hughes, Jr.


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